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Diagnostic essay on 'Waterloo' by Raymond Garlick

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Introduction

Charlotte Joyce Diagnostic essay on 'Waterloo' by Raymond Garlick Raymond Garlick sets his poem 'Waterloo' through a frank and subtly persuasive narrative. The poem allows the reader to explore Garlick's viewpoint on a homage to The Battle of Waterloo and war scenarios and to view them from a perspective that could be considered to have a contemporary and ironic viewpoint. In order to be able to gain a greater understanding from this poem, it is important to take note of the historical context of the poem. From the outset, the subject of 'Waterloo' is directly addressed, through the immediate introduction of the rhetorical statement "Waterloo?...". This has the effect of inviting the reader, subconsciously evoking a response from them to its one-word question. The title of the poem does this to more immediate effect, but the use of a rhetorical question in the first line grabs the attention of the reader, whilst also tackling the main subject straight away. The style of the poem is narrative, conversational, whilst raising questions about the value of war in the reader's mind at the same time, (in this case, the Battle of waterloo). ...read more.

Middle

A sub-theme which could also be extracted, is the exploitation of the Battle of Waterloo for financial gain (the speaker lays the blame at the feet of the growing "royal Belgian / Tourist industry"). This is implied in an indirect way; the poet makes the reader aware that the poet is concerned that this is a problem that needs to be addressed through the insertion of the phrase "..it would appear" on the last line of the last stanza. The "China Wellington boots" (miniature reproductions of Napoleon's boots) and "Napoelons" at the beginning of the fourth stanza strikes a chord with the reader; the souvenirs and memorabilia tourists buy, 'cheapen' and degenerate the effect and historical significance that the Battle is supposed to have. This is an important point that the speaker makes, further realised by that statement that it was "what Waterloo was for", ironically, clearly not what Waterloo was for. It is clear whilst reading through the poem, that certain key phrases stand out, such as "A pyramidal man-made hill"; this phrase seems a good example of the strong imagery that the poem evokes in the reader's mind. "That other violent race" (referring to the English). ...read more.

Conclusion

assuming the readers have prior knowledge of the main facts about the Battle (for example, the "prince of Orange" is not explicitly explained), but this is also another example of the clear outlining of the speaker's attitudes and values of those involved in the Battle. It is also important to note the change in the readers' response as the poem is read through. At the beginning, the tone changes from (what could be perceived as), a perfectly innocent recounting of the events of Waterloo and its historical context, to the stinging punchline of the final stanza with it's ironic and cynical tone, which emotionally involves the reader to be concerned about what the "royal Belgian / Tourist industry" is doing to the significance of the Battle. In conclusion, we see that Garlick's ability to engage the reader in a 'soft sell' narrative, by the use of strong imagery, cynicism and irony, has a powerful and thought provoking effect on us as readers. Therefore, this proves literary devices such as these have a big impact on the way different individuals interpret 'Waterloo' from their own perspective and also the importance of understanding and acknowledging the historical background of the poem, in order to interpret the message the poem tries to bring across. ...read more.

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